As soon as I'd heard of Mary Ann Buckles' story, I wanted to interview her, but it turned out to be a lot harder than I'd expected. She was featured in an article by Michael Erard in the New York Times in 2004, talking about how her pioneering work in game studies, a classic dissertation, had not been of interest to her in her life since academia, and she'd never looked back. In fact, she'd thrown out all her work years ago. After a bit of detective work, I tracked her down and asked her to be in the film, and she agreed, reluctantly, to sit for one. She was a delight! She had all sorts of opinions on these games once we got going, and she was really clear about them. She ended up becoming a major sequence in GET LAMP as well as getting a small bonus feature about some of her other thoughts she'd not worked on since then.
This is also the source of one of my favorite memories of the entire production. Finding out I'd be travelling that day to interview Jeremy Douglass, who was getting an actual, bona fide doctorate in text adventures, she said "Oh, I might have something for him" and went into the other room, returning with her academic robes she'd worn for her doctorate. "Do you think he'd like this?"
I can't even begin to describe the look on Jeremy's face when I brought these to him. A high point.
November 21, 2012 Subject:
Content excellent, execution questionable
If I could rate the content of this interview separately from the presentation, I would give the content 5 stars and the execution 3. Mary-Ann Buckles expresses her views clearly and in an engaging manner, drawing intriguing comparisons between her own youth and the youth of today. After watching this, I'm dying to read her dissertation! But the way the interview footage has been put together baffles me. Some of the clips and indeed the end of the interview cut her off mid-sentence, leaving me wondering what the rest of that thought was going to be. It's very jarring and makes me wonder just what the editor's intention was in cutting the clips off at that specific point. If you're going to cut the clip short, at least find a natural break or the end of a sentence in which to do so! This problem was much more prevalent in the Orcutt interview, but it was still present here. It also wouldn't hurt to include the questions that were being asked, because what use is an answer without the context it was being given in? Finally, I found the camera work to be somewhat amateurish and distracting - zooming in and out mid-sentence, or zooming right in so that Buckles' eyes fill the screen - what was the idea behind that particular shot? It came across like a seven-year-old playing with their parents' camera.
In short, a fascinating interview but I wish I could have seen more of it. Why not just provide the original footage for download? Why edit at all?